Saturday, July 2, 2011

Starlight's Road Trip

I tried to warn her.  Starlight, that is.  I told her last night and again this morning, “You’re going to a show.”

She probably didn’t believe me.  I wouldn’t have.  Who would take a pony who is still learning to keep her balance under a rider and who has only cantered three times under saddle, to a show? 

I would.  And I did. 
Starlight looking anxious before our walk at the show.

If you read this blog regularly, you know I have been looking for a chance to take Starlight off the farm, but not too far away.  Yesterday the opportunity opened right up for me.  I happened to drive by a little horse facility called Crystal Valley Riding Club in South Corning, and I could see they were getting ready for an event.  

I stopped my car and asked a nice man, who was repairing a fence, about it, and he confirmed there would be a show starting at 10 on Saturday.  It was a Western games show, but it wouldn’t have matter if it was a miniature horse chariot race, I decided right then to bring Starlight.  It’s close to my home, is attended by a friendly, relaxed group of people (I had ridden there once before) and it has lots of grassy space to ride a pony who might be a little nervous.  I wasn’t going to enter the classes, but just to give her the experience of being ridden at such an event.

Contemplating the unknown.
All the way up until the moment we left for the show I was wavering back and forth about doing it.  It seemed fairly random to pack up a pony, drive 10 miles, ride her around a Western games show – in English tack – and then go home.  And the drive is no cupcake. 

My friend Trish commented that to trailer a horse to my house you have to travel roads that are narrow AND windy AND hilly, and that is coming from the less steep direction.   Today, we were going the steep route, and it is narrow and windy and hilly in the way a roller coaster is narrow and windy and hilly, not what I like to trailer a horse on.  But hey, we live here.  If we are going to go anyplace with the horses, narrow and windy and hilly it must be.

I first took the empty trailer for a test drive, since it has been sitting since April, was satisfied that it was road-worthy, and prepared the pony for a trip.

Twenty minutes and some hot brakes later, we were at Crystal Valley.  Starlight, who had whinnied all the way down the hill, the poor, scared thing, continued to whinny all around the show grounds as I led her.  We walked past trailers, tied horses, lots of dogs, temporary paddocks, an inflatable kiddy pool and giant inflatable red ball as tall as a Shetland pony (thank you, to the people who brought them.  This is just the kind of thing I wanted her to see!).  We saw folding chairs of every description, experienced children darting about, as well as strange horses riding up on us. 

She was nervous but not panicky after the walk, so I saddled her up and repeated the above while on her back.  I had worn jeans over my field boots, instead of breeches, but nothing could disguise my dressage saddle and hunter bridle as we rode among all the Western saddled horses and people wearing cowboy hats.  We did get our fair share of stares, but I joked it off, “Oops! We don’t match!” and nobody minded. 

Mellowed out and sweaty after our ride.
I took her in the warm up arena and we rode around with other horses in a ring for the first time at the walk and trot.   

Starlight did just great.  She was cooperative through it all, only had a couple of spooks the whole time, and got a lot of compliments.

“She’s so pretty!” many people told us as we went by.   I was so proud of my black and white pony who was as pretty in behavior as in physical form today.

All told, we were there just about an hour, then we packed up and came home.  Some people might have said it was a waste of diesel to be there such a short time, but it was all I wanted.  The plan was exposure, and riding in a strange place among strange people, horses and things, and for everybody to come home happy. 

Mission accomplished.


  1. Fantastic! This is exactly what I wanted to hear! Great job, great job!

    And she IS pretty!